Headlines Cont. – 5/20/2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 20, 2005

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – May 13, 2005


Faithful doctor recognized
     Among the friends and patients who reluctantly accepted the decision of Dr. Deck Stone to retire this spring from his medical practice were the residents of Beverly Healthcare, whom he had served as physician for over 25 years. Beverly Healthcare staff, including (above, left from Dr. Stone) administrator Joni Lambert, and LPNs Caroline Atchison, Ethel McKinney and Joan Grifffin, presented Dr. Stone with a plaque recognizing his service to the facility’s residents which had begun in 1979.
Group calls for NP super to resign
By Jason C. Mattox

A group calling themselves the Concerned Citizens for Action of the North Panola School District (CCA) asked for superintendent Robert Massey’s resignation during Monday night’s board meeting.

"We are calling for this resignation no later than 5 p.m. on May 25," group spokesman Patsy Jackson said.

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But North Panola School District Board of Trustees chairman Cecil Dowden later rebutted several allegations and said the board is confident in Massey’s abilities as superintendent.

Jackson presented trustees with a list of 17 reasons for the group’s demand.

Some of those allegations include:

Some teachers have not received classroom materials in a timely manner.
The superintendent has created unnecessary positions such as a professional development facilitator and assistant superintendent.
The superintendent refused to recommend to the board to pay Ellis Thompson for work he performed for the district.
The recent situation at Green Hill Elementary School, where the principal was removed from her position one day before state testing began, was not handled in a professional manner.

Green Hill Elementary principal Vivian Berkley was removed from the school pending an investigation by the state audit department. No further details are being released at this time.

"This led to confusion among staff, teachers, students and the community," Jackson said. "We are certain that this situation prevented the staff and students from performing at their best during testing."

Jackson said the situation at Green Hill is one of the biggest reasons the group is calling for Massey to resign.

"We have been unhappy with Mr. Massey’s performance for quite some time," she said. "The board ignored the community’s request for a superintendent outside of the district when he was hired.

"He was not the community’s choice," she said. "We feel like the board threw out our request for someone with fresh eyes to come into the district."
Jackson said the CCA is seeking legal advice and will then determine what the next step will be.

"We are meeting with attorneys now," she said. "We will see what develops."

Jackson said the members of the CCA believe it will take a superintendent who truly has the best interest of the students at heart for the district to get back on the right track.

"The district needs someone that will get everyone involved from the parents to the teachers to the student," she said. "We need someone that cares about the community and the school."

According to Board President Dowden, "One of the allegations is that North Panola High School’s achievement level dropped," he said. "That is untrue. Our achievement level has remained steady, but the school did not show the growth that was expected."

In the issue with Thompson, Dowden said a letter has been mailed explaining that the money was not paid because he was requesting money in addition to his original bid for painting.

"If he had asked for this money in the bid, he wouldn’t have received the bid," he said. "The extra money would have made his the highest of the bids."

As for Massey’s performance as superintendent, Dowden said the board has been pleased.

"We have seen improvement in the district since Mr. Massey took over as our superintendent two years ago," he said. "He is entering the second year of a four-year contract, and he will remain in his position."

When contacted about the allegations, Massey had no comment.

Dreamriders Rally this weekend
By Jason C. Mattox

This weekend will mark the third straight year that the Dreamriders local motorcycle club will hold a rally to raise money for various charities it supports.

Some of those charities include St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House and the Sheriff’s Boys and Girls Ranch.

Club representative David Gilley said the club got its start in 1999 as a way to help a friend who was left a quadriplegic from an automobile accident.

"We started out doing the Bridget Raines Poker Run to help her pay some of the medical expenses she had from the wreck," he said. "When she passed away, we decided to continue the run and set up a scholarship.

"Eight or nine of us were sitting around wondering what we can do, and we ultimately ended up forming the Dreamriders," Gilley said.

It was three years ago that the Dreamriders members, a total of 37 from Panola County and the surrounding area, decided to start the annual rally as a way to raise money.

"We are totally non-profit," he said. "Anything we raise goes to the charities we support."

The event will be held on Mike Carver’s property on Woodruff Road. A weekend pass for the event is $20. Tickets for just Saturday are $15.

Food and beverages will be for sale at the event. Featured entertainment includes Undertow, Asphalt, Jimmy’s Nature and Due South.

In addition to its numerous charities, Gilley said the club also helps individuals who call in with a request.

"We have a board of directors that will consider the request and conduct the background check," he said. "But we do as much as we can to help as many people as possible."

McLarty jury could begin deliberations soon
By Billy Davis

Jury deliberation could begin today in the trial of a 33-year-old Panola County man accused of murdering his mother’s live-in boyfriend.

David Scott McLarty, 33, faces a murder charge in the May 2004 death of Kenny Belvin.

The circuit trial is being held at the Panola County Courthouse in Batesville where Judge Ann Lamar of Oxford is presiding.

McLarty claimed self defense after shooting Belvin six times with a Ruger .22 pistol while the two men argued at 1211 Sardis Lake Drive.

Belvin lived at that address with McClarty’s mother, Lynn Jenkins.

Jenkins was the sole witness to the shooting and backed up her son’s claims in interviews with investigators. She was set to testify for the defense Thursday afternoon.

A grand jury indicted McLarty of murder last November.

The circuit trial began Monday afternoon after a jury of four males and eight females was seated.

On Tuesday, however, Lamar called in sick and jurors were dismissed at 9 a.m. by Circuit Clerk Joe Reid. The Oxford judge was also sick on Wednesday, but she returned Thursday and the trial resumed.

Forensic pathologist Steven Hayne, who performed the autopsy on Belvin’s body, took the witness stand at 11 a.m. Thursday morning.

Hayne answered questions for an hour and a half from Assistant District Attorney Robert Kelly and defense attorney Joey Langston.

The court testimony from Hayne is crucial to both sides since the defense is claiming that the men scuffled and both were armed, and that McCarty shot and killed Belvin to protect himself and his mother.

Under direct examination by Kelly, Hayne testified that Belvin’s hands and fingers showed no signs of a struggle, such as tears or cuts, and no skin, hair or clothes fragments were found underneath his fingernails.

Hayne also testified that the bullets’ entry wounds indicated that a "time frame" had elapsed, meaning Belvin was shot in his chest but was turning away from McLarty when he was shot again on his right side.

Regarding apparent injuries to Belvin’s shin and wrist, Hayne testified that those injuries are mostly likely from a fall, not a fight.

Under cross-examination by Langston, however, Hayne agreed that the injuries could have come from "fisticuffs" between the two men.

"So the scrape on his wrist could have come from a struggle?" Langston asked.

"Yes, it could come from that," Hayne replied.

Though he said the scenario was unlikely, Hayne also agreed with Langston that the two men could have suffered only glancing blows that would have been hard to see.

Langston also noted numerous controlled substances in Belvin’s system including alcohol, marijuana, hydrocodone and barbiturates.

During a lunch recess Thursday, Langston said the defense should rest its case Friday morning, meaning the jury could begin its deliberation today after closing arguments.

McLarty is also represented by David Scruggs of Oxford. Langston is from Booneville.




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